Rob Olson

Marketer, Executive
Class of 1988


Picture of Rob OlsonRob Olson grew up in Sycamore, IL and graduated from Sycamore High School in 1988. Rob is the son of John Olson and Roberta Romine and younger brother of Lisa Miller. His family moved to Sycamore in the early 1900s, when they migrated from Sweden. His great- grandparents settled here in 1906, where his great- grandfather became a mason, building several homes in the Sycamore area. His grandfather, Norm Olson, followed suit in the field of carpentry also building many homes around Sycamore. His father worked at Northern Illinois University (NIU) where he retired as Assistant Directory of Registration and Records.

Rob attended Southeast Elementary School, Roberts Elementary School (DeKalb, IL), Sycamore Middle School, and Sycamore High School. During elementary school and middle school, he participated in little league baseball, as well as middle school football. During high school, he participated in Spanish club, Leaves and intramural basketball. Throughout high school he also worked at Sorrento’s Ranch, the Carl’s Fargo, and Wal-Mart.

After graduation, Rob went on to NIU where he was a member of the American Marketing Association. He graduated in three years with a BS in Marketing. In his final semester at NIU, he participated in an internship with Wal-Mart, where he started his career in retail as an Assistant Store Manager in Iowa. He later transferred to the Chicagoland area, where he helped open two stores. He left Wal-Mart in 1994 to join Sportmart as a Store Manager and went on to manage multiple Chicagoland stores. In 1998, he left Sportmart to join IKEA as they were opening their first store in Northern Illinois.

Rob started his career at IKEA as a Business Controller for the store in Schaumburg, IL. While in Schaumburg, Rob held multiple positions within Operations and Sales. He relocated to Virginia and back to Illinois as Store Manager in two stores. In 2006, he relocated to Conshohocken, PA where he became a Deputy Retail Manager for the US operations. While in this role, he oversaw multiple store locations across the US and helped open two new stores. In 2008, he became the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for the US operations. In this role, he helped secure an improved cost structure to help fund an increase in the living wage for all US co-workers, a large expansion of IKEA stores across the US, and opened up two wind farms. During the living wage adjustments, he had the opportunity to meet with President Obama. In 2016, Rob moved back into the Deputy Retail Manager role for the US operations with a focus on Property and Expansion. In 2017, he moved to Malmo, Sweden as the INGKA Group Real Estate Manager where he oversees Real Estate operations globally for IKEA. He still resides in Malmo today with his wife, Amy.

Rob attributes his success in business to both his upbringing in Sycamore and his family. He married his wife, Amy, in 1992 and has two sons, Joshua and Jarod.

Growing up in Sycamore has helped anchor his values in life and work. One of the attractions for his family first moving here in the early 1900s was the Midwestern culture and values. Sycamore is a community of hard working, humble and supportive individuals. This is how Rob has approached both life and work and has helped him grow and succeed over the years.